Best Car Accident Lawyers in Memphis
This may be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the truth: when you’re in a car accident, the insurance company isn’t looking out for you. The other driver isn’t looking out for you, and their attorney definitely isn’t looking out for you.
When everything is stacked against you, it’s in your best interest to hire a representative who knows the law, understands your needs, and will fight relentlessly to get you the compensation you deserve. Call a Memphis car accident attorney today to learn more about your legal options and get started on an airtight legal strategy.
Car Accidents in Memphis: Statistics and Reports
If you live in Tennessee, you’ve probably read headlines as concerning as these from WREG and WMC News: “Traffic deaths up by 50% in Memphis area this year” and “Shelby County sees increase in fatal crashes in 2020.”
There’s speculation over why there are now more fatal car accidents in Memphis than in previous years, but many experts blame distracted driving for the startling increase. Accident-related fatalities are certainly tragic and affect countless people, but accidents causing injury are far more prevalent.
In 2020, careless or erratic driving caused 4,426 accidents in Shelby County. Distracted driving caused 6,640 accidents. Driving on the wrong side of the road accounted for 145 crashes, whereas speeding caused 102.
Most of these accidents would have been avoided had drivers followed the rules of the road and kept others’ safety in mind. Unfortunately, many people decided to drive negligently and caused thousands of wrecks.
If you or a family member were injured in a car accident in Shelby County, you need an experienced attorney to represent you and fight to get the compensation you deserve.
Call one of our top car accident lawyers in Memphis for more information.
What to Do After a Car Crash
- The first thing you need to do is stop your car. Tensions and emotions can be high after a car accident, but do not panic and drive away. Some panicked drivers flee the scene even if they were not at fault; this is a dangerous and unlawful mistake.
- If you are injured, stay at the scene and call an ambulance. If you are not injured, stay calm and ensure that you and your passenger(s) are physically unharmed.
- Call the police, even if it was a minor accident. When the police arrive at the scene of a car accident, they’ll write an official report that includes valuable details of the collision, which will help provide evidence to insurance and, if you decide to pursue litigation, in settlement negotiations. Although police reports are valuable pieces of evidence for insurance and your legal team, they are usually not allowed to be used as evidence in courts above the small claims level.
- Call your insurance company. If you want to make an insurance claim after an accident, remember to get the contact information of any witnesses who can help support the claim. If possible, take photos of the accident scene. These will also help support your claim.
- Speak with an experienced car accident attorney in Memphis. An expert lawyer will protect your legal rights by ensuring that valuable evidence is not destroyed or hidden. They’ll evaluate your case, help you decide what the best course of action is moving forward, and ensure that you receive full compensation for the damage and injuries you sustained because of the accident.
That’s why you must hire an auto accident lawyer after being in a collision – they know how to negotiate with insurance companies and fight for the compensation you need.
Whom to Sue After a Car Accident
The Other Driver(s)
You can sue the other driver for damages once you have proof that they acted negligently and that their negligence directly caused your injury. In addition to the insurance company, the other driver is the most common party to be sued in a car accident case.
It’s important to note that there may be more than one at-fault party in your Tennessee car accident. If so, you may be able to sue multiple parties.
The Other Driver’s Employer
Say an electrician runs into you while they’re on the way to a job site. Because they were on the job and operating within the parameters of their role, you would likely be able to sue their employer for damages.
Employers are responsible (liable) for their employees, and that carries over when the employee is driving to or from a job site, regardless if it’s their or their employer’s vehicle.
What You Can Sue for After a Car Accident
In Tennessee, injured victims of car accidents have many options for recovering damages. Whether you and your attorney are suing the at-fault driver, their employer, or their insurance company, you may be able to sue for:
- Medical damages, including emergency room treatment and follow-up care
- Property damage, including the vehicle and any damaged property inside the vehicle, such as a laptop that was ruined in the crash
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Common Car Accident Injuries
You may feel invincible driving, but the fact is that the human body is extremely fragile, especially when faced with a 2,000-pound or more machine hurtling toward it at 55 miles per hour. Car accidents can cause a range of injuries, some minor and some fatal. These are some of the most common injuries facing drivers in Memphis:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Car accidents are a leading cause of TBI, an injury affecting the function of the brain. TBI can occur when the head is punctured by an object or damaged by a strong blow.
TBIs can cause memory problems, unconsciousness, personality and mood changes, depression, and anxiety. In serious cases, they cause nausea and vomiting, convulsions and seizures, and even death.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
Car accidents are also a leading cause of spinal cord injury. The enormous impact placed upon the human body in a crash can cause one or more of the vertebrae in the spine to fracture, crush, or compress.
These injuries can cause temporary or lifelong paralysis, of which there are several types. Quadriplegia is paralysis of the arms, hands, torso, legs, and pelvic organs. Paraplegia is paralysis of all or part of the torso, legs, and pelvic organs.
Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries
Whiplash is caused by a sudden jolt or blow that sends the driver’s or passenger’s head rapidly back and forth, stretching and breaking the tendons and ligaments in the neck. Whiplash and related neck injuries can occur even in low-speed accidents.
In high-impact car accidents, the back absorbs more force than it can stand, often leading to back injuries like herniated discs, compression fractures, and lumbar or thoracic vertebrae fractures. In addition to the immense pain these injuries can cause, victims often suffer from coexisting or progressive back problems.
Burns are common in car accidents, especially if you were exposed to excessive heat, toxic chemicals, or electricity. Some burn injuries can heal quickly, but others can last a lifetime and require intense skin restructuring and even surgery.
The seat belt is one of the most significant safety inventions in modern history, but it can also cause serious injuries in the event of a car crash. The force exuded upon the human body from a rear-end crash can send the driver or passenger forward into the seat belt, putting unnatural amounts of pressure on the organs inside. This may cause them to rupture and bleed into the body’s internal cavities.
Of course, seat belts aren’t the only cause of internal injuries in car accidents; the force of a crash alone is often enough to cause bodily damage.
Any bone in your body can be broken in a car accident. The force and pressure that an accident exerts on your body can lead to broken legs, arms, clavicles, hips, ribs, and many other bones. Broken bones may not seem like a big deal, but they can easily become infected, and an infection that spreads to the bloodstream is deadly.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD cases in the general population of the United States. These instances are so common because the very nature of a car crash is traumatic. When you go through a life-threatening experience, you’re far more likely to develop PTSD as a result.
Symptoms of PTSD in car accident victims include dissociation and avoidance behaviors, changes in emotional reactions, and intrusive memories.
Unfortunately, thousands of Memphians suffer these and other injuries each year following avoidable car wrecks. Like the car wrecks themselves, these injuries could be avoided, but negligent drivers fail to follow the rules of the road and end up putting themselves and others in danger.
If you were injured in a car accident in Memphis, you deserve legal representation and an attorney who will stand up for you and your best interests. Call a top car accident attorney in Memphis to find out how they’ll fight for you.
Police Reports in Car Accident Cases
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and wish to press charges, a police report is one of the most valuable documents you can have.
Police accident reports are exactly what they sound like – an officer arrives at the scene of a car crash and conducts a general investigation. These reports are crucial for insurance carriers, as they contain information that is valuable for insurance companies to conduct their own mandatory investigation.
Police accident reports are also helpful in carrying out settlement negotiations between insurance carriers and as evidence in small claims courts.
What’s included in a police report?
As well as general facts and information about the crash, police reports contain the opinions of the investigating officer about who or what caused the accident. All of this information helps establish your personal injury claim. Car crash reports include:
- Date, time, and place.
- Description of road conditions. This includes lighting, roadway, and weather conditions.
- Description of the drivers and vehicles involved. This includes names, addresses, contact, and insurance information.
- Details of the crash. This part of the report will include the location of the damage on the vehicles, as well as the officer’s notes on their determination of fault. It is important to remember that the officer’s determination of fault is an opinion.
- A diagram of the accident scene. In a police accident report, the officer will fill out a small rendering of the crash scene. It includes directions and positions of the involved vehicles as well as the names of streets.
- Notes of property damage. The report will include a description of the extent of any property damage, including to your vehicle and its contents.
- Witness statements. People’s memories can be flawed, especially in traumatic circumstances, so it’s helpful for police officers to ask several bystanders and witnesses of their account of the accident to get a comprehensive idea of what happened.
How do I get a police report?
There are two ways to get a police report for a car accident: through the police department or your insurance company.
- Obtaining a copy of the report from the police department. When a police officer arrives at the scene of an accident and drafts a report, they will usually give you a receipt with the report identification number. If you would like a copy, call the traffic division of the law enforcement office that created your report and pay an administrative fee.
- Obtaining a copy of the report from your insurance company. This is another viable option for getting a copy of the report, and one that shouldn’t cost you any money. Call the claims representative at your insurance company to find out if they requested the report from the police department to conduct their own investigation of the crash. They may not have it, but if they do you won’t have to pay.
How can a car accident police report help my case?
Other than providing important details of the crash, police reports can be valuable tools in settlement negotiations. As representatives of the company, insurance adjusters value police reports highly. Your lawyer can leverage the report to convince the adjuster that the other driver was at fault, therefore giving you a larger settlement.
A police report could also help your car accident attorney find helpful evidence for your case. Attorneys conduct their own investigations, so a car crash report could help them find other witnesses, more information, and other potentially liable parties.
Although car accident police reports are invaluable resources, they have their legal limits. By definition, police reports are hearsay. Hearsay refers to an out-of-court statement made by someone other than the witness used to prove the truth of an argument – someone without direct knowledge of what happened. Statements that are ruled as hearsay are not permissible in court, mainly because they are considered to be unreliable pieces of information.
However, a police report may be used as evidence in small claims courts only. Individuals in small claims courts are not expected to know all the rules of court, so most judges will allow plaintiffs to submit a police report as evidence in these situations.
Car Accident Lawsuit Process in Memphis
Proving fault isn’t always straightforward, especially in accidents with no witnesses or conclusive evidence. If you want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you’ll need substantial proof to demonstrate to the insurance adjuster or jury that you were not at fault.
The Settlement Process
Next, your attorney will help you draft a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In this letter, you should state your claim, explain the injuries and damages you’ve incurred, and the amount of compensation you and your car accident lawyer have found equitable.
After you send the letter, the insurance company will investigate the case before accepting or denying your claim. This process may take longer than expected, but your attorney will stay in communication with the insurance company and make sure everything is moving as it should.
If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will receive a settlement offer. Both parties will negotiate, and at this point, you may accept the offer if it meets your financial needs. If insurance denies your claim, you can make an appeal to the claims adjuster or file a complaint at the district or county court, beginning the trial process.
Remember to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline. In Tennessee, you must file the lawsuit within one year of the date of the accident.
Stages of a Lawsuit
After you file a lawsuit, the at-fault driver and their insurance company must reply within a fixed amount of time, usually 60 days.
The defendant may file a motion to delay the trial or give them an advantage in court. These include a motion for removal from state to federal court, a change of venue, change of judge, or a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
After sorting out pre-trial motions, the judge will set a trial date. If they do not assign a trial date, the judge may order mediation between you, your attorney, the other driver, and their attorney. A neutral mediator guides discussion between the parties in an attempt to reach an agreement without going to trial.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the lawyers on both sides will investigate the case, gather evidence, and share their findings with the other party. Both sides must share all information they discover with the other party.
Your case will go to trial only after these steps have been taken. Keep in mind that you and your Memphis car accident attorney may reach a settlement at any point in the process.
Car Accident Questions and Answers
Why should I hire a car accident lawyer in Memphis?
We get it – after being in a car accident, you have plenty to worry about, and your legal rights might not be one of them. But they should be.
Being proactive and hiring a top Memphis car accident lawyer could mean the difference between obtaining a settlement that will pay for all of the damages to your property and all of your injuries and a settlement that will barely cover one doctor’s appointment.
A car accident attorney won’t just represent you in the settlement process or in court: they’ll conduct an investigation of the case to make sure nothing is left out; they’ll handle the insurance claims process for you so you can focus on recovery; they’ll prevent the insurance company from acting in bad faith and paying you less than what you need, and they’ll negotiate a settlement that works for you.
Don’t try and go through this process alone; in the case of a car accident, no one is really on your side except for your lawyer. Call today to learn how we’ll fight for you.